10 of Spains best beaches for families and hikers – The Guardian

BEST FOR FAMILIESCala Mitjana, Menorca

Menorcas beaches are brilliant. The entire island was designated a Unesco biosphere reserve in 1993, and the natural tranquillity of the landscape has been carefully preserved in a sustainable approach to tourism that has helped keep the island unspoiled. Cala Mitjana is a ravishing Caribbean-style beach with fine white sand and turquoise water, but it can get busy in summer. If you are feeling energetic and looking for quieter beaches, continue south-east along the well-marked coastal trail for 20 minutes to the equally delectable Cala de Trebalger.

Where to stayAgroturismo-style Hort Sant Patrici (doubles from 200), 9km north of Mitjana, has a Menorcan-themed restaurant, vineyards, a cheese factory and pool.

Where to eatPizzeria Bobby, 8km north-east of Mitjana in Ferreres, is a family-run restaurant serving stone-baked pizzas.

The Costa Galicia in the north-west of Spain boasts 1,500km of coastline and some of the most beautiful beaches in Europe. About 35km north of the city of Vigo (famous for its osyters) Praia de Temperns, a seven-minute drive south-east of the village of Nerga, is a secluded and tranquil bay, perfect for family swimming and snorkelling. Park near Miradoiro do Bouceiro and follow the track around the house to the beach. The path leads on south-west to another secluded spot, Praia das Moscas.

Where to stayCamping Limens (pitch from 33, bungalow from 65) is a short drive west of Temperns and offers spacious pitches on terraces with views of the Ra de Vigo and the Ces Islands. (Campsite prices are for a pitch for two in high season.)

Where to eatOnly 15 minutes drive from Praia de Temperns is regional capital Cangas de Morrazo, bursting with ice-cream vendors and cafes. Vegetarians, vegans and children are well catered for: dont miss the pimientos de padrn, savoury empanadas gallegas and torta de Santiago almond cake. Restaurant O Bruo serves local seafood dishes.

The Costa Galicia north runs from the Pontevedra estuary, north of Vigo to Ra de Muros y Noya, 60km west of Santiago de Compostela. Playa de Dique is an enchanting sandy nook sheltered from the Atlantic winds between rocky headlands and pinewoods. The waves and swell are strong but a picturesque creek at the rear of the beach provides safe bathing and playing for children. The enclosed space and shallow stream make Praia do Dique the perfect place for families to settle for the day. Its best to park near the entrance to Castro de Baroa, take the path towards Praia de Arealonga, walk south to the end of the beach and over the headland, then follow waymarkers for 400 metres to Praia do Dique.

Where to stay and eatCamping Rianxo (pitch from 34.50, double bungalow from 40, hostel from 10pp) is a grassy campsite and bar half an hour from do Dique, with delicious food, especially the freshly caught xoubas (sardines) and locally grown padrn peppers. Nearby Turnauga Turismo e Aventura offers white-water rafting, kayaking and cliff jumping.

The arid semi-desert province of Almera has provided the backdrop to a huge number of films, particularly westerns. On three remaining film sets, for a fistful of euros you can watch wild west re-enactments and wander around the original locations at Spains mini-Hollywood. The south-west of Almera has a wild coastline where cactus-strewn paths in the Cabo de Gata natural park lead to remote sandy beaches. At triple-coved Playa de Mnsul, 5km south-west of San Jos, fossilised lava has formed vast overfilled volcanic muffins, and a dramatic rock rears from the sand at the waters edge like a tremendous sea creature. No wonder Steven Spielberg chose Mnsul as a location for Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, the scene where Henry Jones Senior (Sean Connery) uses an umbrella to flush a flock of birds into the sky to bring down a Nazi plane. It has no services, but a colossal sand dune provides the stage for childrens swashbuckling adventures.

Where to stayCamping Cabo de Gata (pitch from 32.50), 30 minutes drive from Mnsul, is a great campsite with play area, superb pool and friendly staff.

Where to eatRestaurante Casa Pepe in San Jos has great views with tapas to match and is popular with locals as well as tourists.

The impressive peaks of Mallorcas Serra Tramuntana give way to vineyards and orchards, and its the clear blue waters support rich and diverse marine life. Sandy Cal es Caragol is in a remote and unspoiled bay on the southernmost tip of the island, where butterflies flit around the dunes. Driving from Es Llombards youll pass Faro de Cap Salines, the first solar powered lighthouse in Spain. The beach itself is a half-hour walk north-west from here along the path to the right of the fence towards the sea, then round the headland on the right. Shallow water and an abundance of space makes it perfect for family beach games and slow-paced days. No services for miles around.

Where to stayAgroturism Possessi Binicomprat (doubles from 160 B&B), 45 minutes drive north of Caragol, is a rural hotel surrounded by vineyards, oak forests and aromatic plants. Sumptuous breakfasts are served in the garden.

Where to eatRestaurant Mol de Sal, 20 minutes drive north, serves fresh Mallorcan specialities accompanied by homemade bread, dips, native olive oil, original sea salt and olives.

The Camino dos Faros or Lighthouse Way is a 200km coastal hiking trail in Galicia that links Malpica with Fisterra, taking in the wild beauty of the Costa da Morte. The Faro de Fisterra lighthouse is on the spot that, in Roman times, was thought to be the edge of the world. A few kilometres north lies Playa Arnela, amid unbridled countryside of bucolic villages and fields of maize. Ferocious waves pound the shore and riptides are clearly visible. Its a place to feel isolated from the world and marvel at the sheer power of the Atlantic.

Where to stay and eatLaid-back rural campsite Camping Playa Barreira Leis (pitch from 33) half an hours drive north from Arnela has spacious terraced pitches and an exceptional bar serving home-cooked, locally sourced food.

The rugged Basque coast (Costa Vasca) starts at Castro Urdiales just west of Bilbao and continues up to the border with France, near the foothills of the Pyrenees. At its midway point we discovered the islet of Gaztelugatxe, the incredible location for Dragonstone Castle in Game of Thrones. At its summit sits the Hermitage of San Juan, accessed from the mainland across an ancient bridge and 241 steps. From here, its easy to imagine swooping dragons and Daenerys Targaryen plotting to rule the Seven Kingdoms. Free entry, but book in advance.

Where to stayCamping Laredo (pitch from 38, bungalow from 55, two-night minimum) is an hours drive east of Gaztelugatxe, with a sparkling swimming pool.

Where to eatCafetera Doniene in Bakio, six minutes drive east of Gaztelugatxe does great pintxos and coffee.

Between the Costa Blanca and Costa Almera in south-east Spain lies the Costa Clida (warm coast). Cala del Pozo de la Avispa is at the end of an enjoyable hike Batera de Jorel across the Cabo Tioso y Roldn headland, with sweeping views over the bay and Sierra de la Muela. Take supplies and follow a path bordered by dwarf palms, wild flowers and masses of rosemary while listening to the melodic whir and hum of bees. Backed by layers of yellow fossilised dunes, this isolated beach is lapped by clear blue water and you can swim round the headland to Cala de las Chapas or Cala Salitrona. No services for miles around.

Where to stayTwenty minutes drive north-east of Cala del Pozo de la Avispa is Camping Los Madriles (pitch from 34.40, bungalow from 70), a highly recommended campsite with a continuously renewed hydrothermal salt water pool.

Where to eatCastillo Del Pinar, half an hours drive north of Avispa, is a family-run restaurant in an enchanting castle in Pern.

The orange blossom coast stretches for 115km between Barcelona and Valencia, offering wild clifftop walks, river beaches and nature reserves home to birds including kestrels and great cormorants and Bonellis eagle. Cala Puerto Negro is a small pebble cove in the Serra dIrta natural park, a marine reserve with a succession of cute beaches surrounded by dwarf palms, mastic trees and sea rocket. The coastal path further south-west is ideal for hikers and mountain bikers.

Where to stayCamping Ribamar (pitch from 37, bungalow from 90) is a 45-minute drive through the park along the coast.

Where to eatCocina Pura Vida, 3.7km south-west of Alcossebre, is anorganic seafront restaurant serving innovative food and lactose free ice-cream.

On Ibiza, coastal paths lead to astonishing secret coves with rich marine ecosystems. Es Portitxol is a perfect example: a circular bay on the north of the island a half-hour hike signposted from the road north off Urbanizacin Isla Blanca along a scenic cliffside trail. Wear suitable shoes and bring supplies. With lots of places to jump and dive from rocks into the sea, the turquoise waters offer some of the best swimming on the island. The shore is lined with traditional fishing huts still used by fishers. Water shoes are also recommended for swimming off the pebbly beach.

Where to stayAgroturismo Can Jaume (doubles from 250 B&B) half an hours drive south, is a stylish place that grows most of its own produce, so expect incredible breakfasts, particularly for vegans and vegetarians. Agroturismo Can Domo (doubles from 150 B&B) half an hours drive south-east, has rustic rooms, a pretty pool and a great restaurant.

Where to eat For spectacular views, well-earned post-adventure refreshments and freshly made pizza, head to Boathouse Bar at the bottom of Carrer Sn81, the main road to Urbanizacin Isla Blanca.

Hidden Beaches Spain: 450 secret coast and island beaches to walk, swim & explore, by Lola Culsn and John Weller is out now (Wild Things Publishing, 18.99). Guardian readers can get 20% off and free P&P with code GuardianSpain21

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10 of Spains best beaches for families and hikers - The Guardian

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